N IS FOR NETHERLANDS
Sometimes you’ve never even heard about a writer and then you read them, and read about them, and there’s such a strong bond between them and you, it’s uncanny. Such is the case with Willem Frederik Hermans and myself. He crafts such perfect darkness that I was immediately drawn in, albeit for the brief under a 100 pages. The way he takes war, filth of humanity, and the evil that lurks is exactly what I want to read in books, this is what affects me most: a bleak desolation. Reminded me of both Laszlo Krasznahorkai and Leonid Andreyev but with surgical precision to his plot and work. Vladimir Pelevin without unnecessary meta, a literary Pasolini in staccato. And if I may bring in further multidisciplinary comparisons, the isolationist nature of the novelette reminded me of Salad Fingers the animated shorts, while the exploration of the house in war brought me back to my childhood seat playing Wolfenstein 3D. Only instead of aide boxes and German shepherds biting at your ankle: aquariums full of fish and 26 pairs of shoes.
When I read the afterword, I was further enamored with the author. His credo of “creative nihilism, aggressive pity, total misanthropy” certainly will seem offensive to some but to me shows a person who was clearly dedicated to humanity and had no time for inferior dealings. Looking forward to read more of Hermans.
An Untouched House by Willem Frederik Hermans
Translated from Dutch by David Colmer
Published by Archipelago Books in 2018